Giving voice to those supported by benefits

Angus MP Mike Weir has been pursuing payments for those off the gas grid for several years.
Angus MP Mike Weir has been pursuing payments for those off the gas grid for several years.

Angus MP Mike Weir has given his support to a campaign which aims to give a voice to those supported by benefits at some point in their lives.

Polling by the campaign, Who Benefits?, has revealed overwhelming public support for the principle that benefits should be there for those who need them.

Some 81 per cent agree ‘benefits are an important safety net to support people when they need help’, while two-thirds (64 percent) agree ‘we all benefit as a society when support from benefits is available for those that need it’.

But despite widespread public support, more than a quarter (27 percent) of those who currently claim benefits say they have hidden this because of what people will think. This rises to half (47 percent) of 16-24 year olds who have been supported by benefits. And more than half (51 percent) of all those who had never been supported by benefits said they would feel embarrassed to claim.

Who Benefits? argues the overwhelming majority of those on benefits really need the support, yet too often their voices are ignored, misrepresented or at worst they are blamed for their situation. The campaign has been launched by more than 70 charities and community groups brought together by The Children’s Society, Crisis, Gingerbread, Macmillan Cancer Support and Mind.

Mike Weir MP, who attended the launch of the campaign in Westminster, said: “Whilst no system is perfect and there will always be some who seek to exploit it, some of the terms used in current debates are really depressing. I’ve seen first hand how the vast majority of those supported by benefits really need that help, so it is great that Who Benefits? is helping give them a voice. People from all kinds of backgrounds need help from benefits at some point in their lives. I’d encourage them to support the campaign and share their own stories, so the debate on benefits reflects their experiences.”